About the Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition
The Saint John's Bible
The Saint John’s Bible was commissioned by Saint John’s
University and Abbey in 1998 “to ignite the spiritual imagination of
believers throughout the world.” It is the first hand-written,
illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery since the
invention of the printing press. Saint John’s is Saint Martin’s founding
The 73 books of the Old and New Testaments have been collected in seven
Gospels and Acts (2002), Pentateuch (2003), Psalms
Prophets (2005), Wisdom Books (2006), Historical Books
(2010), and Letters and Revelation (2011).
This remarkable artistic creation fuses contemporary themes and
technologies with centuries-old techniques and materials. Page layouts and
line breaks were designed on a computer. The pages themselves are calfskin
vellum, and the script was written with goose, turkey and swan quills dipped
in lampblack ink made from rare nineteenth century Chinese ink sticks.
Hand-ground pigments - vermillion, lapis lazuli and others - were combined
with egg yolk and water to form paints for the illuminations, which were
embossed with gold and platinum leaf. The illuminations were created with
traditional techniques, but incorporate contemporary themes and images.
The original Saint John’s Bible is housed at the Hill Museum and
Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
The Heritage Edition is a full-size, fine art edition of The Saint
John’s Bible. Donald Jackson, the artistic director for
The Saint John’s Bible, was also the artistic director of the
Heritage Edition, working with leading experts in printing and binding to
ensure the faithful and consistent representation of the original.
Production was limited to 299 sets, each numbered and signed by Jackson.
Saint Martin’s University is the only library in western Washington that
owns a set of the Heritage Edition.
The approximately 1160 pages of the seven volume Heritage Edition are
printed on uncoated cotton paper with an innovative, high-tech, ultraviolet
printing process. Illuminations are embossed with gold and silver foil to
replicate the effects of the gold and platinum leaf of the original. The
volumes are bound in handcrafted, embossed Italian calfskin with a silver
clasp. Like the original, the volumes are monumental in size: approximately
2 feet tall by 3 feet wide when open and weighing from 13 to nearly 20